Businesses around the world have procured enough renewable energy to power France, new data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has found.

Its latest report, Corporate Sourcing of Renewables: Market and Industry Trends, revealed that the corporate sector collectively sourced 465 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2017 – enough to cover the electricity demand of France, or power Australia’s National Electricity Market more than two times over.

The report is one of the first global assessment of corporate renewable energy sourcing, looking at more than 2400 large companies sourcing renewable energy, through direct generation, renewable energy certificates, procurement programs and/or power purchase agreements (PPAs).

“Renewable energy sourcing has become a mainstream pillar of business strategy in recent years,” IRENA director-general Adnan Amin said.

“While environmental concerns initiated this growing trend, the strengthening business case and price stability offered by renewables can deliver a competitive advantage to corporations, and support sustainable growth.”

In Australia, for example, businesses have been flocking to PPAs to hedge against an increasingly volatile energy market and meet environmental commitments.

Of the companies studied, more than 200 were sourcing over 50 per cent of energy from renewables, while more than 50 companies were powered 100 per cent renewably. Self-generation was the most common sourcing model, followed by renewable energy certificates and PPAs.

While it’s good news, IRENA said the rate of renewables deployment needed to increase sixfold to meet Paris climate goals, with companies needing to be procuring 85 per cent of energy from renewables by 2050. Government policy will be crucial to enabling more private-sector procurement of renewable energy.

“Our analysis shows that even light policy adjustments can stimulate a rapid scale-up of corporate sourcing activities, indicating the significant potential to grow the market in the years to come,” Mr Amin said.

“The private and public sectors must work hand in hand to seize this opportunity.”

With the commercial and industrial sectors responsible for about two-thirds of the world’s electricity use, Mr Amin said how they chose to source electricity would be a key factor in “the world’s pursuit of a sustainable future”.